Despite the league never fully meeting the expectations set during its high-profile launch, the franchised league will be looking to revive the scene by capitalising on the initial hype of Overwatch 2. Early signs for cautious optimism were shown by the Overwatch League 2022 Playoffs — played on the new game — which recorded the league’s second-highest peak viewership ever.
Nonetheless, Overwatch’s removal in China — one of its biggest markets — following Blizzard’s acrimonious divorce from NetEase has caused a wave of doubt for the league and its future plans.
Moreover, some Overwatch League teams are currently reportedly taking collective action against Activision Blizzard to secure economic relief after allegedly disappointing revenues. Overwatch League teams bought franchise slots for $20m (~£16.5m) and upward.
Given the state of the league, Esports Insider has revisited every Overwatch League franchise to find out which companies and esports organisations are still in charge of the teams. Who’s involved — and which owners have remained in the Overwatch League since its formation?
Atlanta Reign: Atlanta Esports Ventures
Atlanta Reign announced its entry into the Overwatch League in 2018 and has been owned by Atlanta Esports Ventures since its creation. Atlanta Esports Ventures was created through a partnership between global conglomerate Cox Enterprises and financial advisory company Province in 2018.
Alongside its Overwatch League franchise, the company invested in the Call of Duty League via its ownership of Atlanta FaZe, alongside FaZe Clan.
Boston Uprising: Kraft Sports and Entertainment
As one of Overwatch League’s founding teams, Boston Uprising has been owned by holding company Kraft Sports and Entertainment — a major player in the US sports ecosystem — since the start of the OWL.
Alongside expanding into the Call of Duty League with Boston Breach in 2021, Kraft also owns NFL team New England Patriots and MLS football club New England Revolution. Boston Uprising, as well as Boston Breach, are operated by North American esports organisation Oxygen Esports.
Chengdu Hunters: Huya
Chengdu Hunters has been owned by Huya, a Chinese live-streaming platform, since the team’s creation in 2018.
The franchise was initially operated by Chinese powerhouse Royal Never Give Up (RNG) for its debut season in 2019. The collaboration ultimately concluded following the 2020 Overwatch League – Asia Playoffs and since then the franchise has been both owned and operated by Huya.
Chengdu Hunters’ future within the Overwatch League is currently in doubt at the time of writing. The franchise was not included in the competition’s 2023 Spring Knockout Stage schedule.
Another one of Overwatch League’s founding teams, Dallas Fuel, is now officially owned by esports organisation OpTic Gaming after Team Envy, the franchise’s original owners, fully merged into the North American esports organisation last year.
Alongside the Dallas Fuel, OpTic Gaming holds Halo, Apex Legends and Rocket League rosters as well as competes in the Call of Duty League with OpTic Texas. Dallas Fuel is a reigning champion, having won the Overwatch League 2022.
Florida Mayhem has remained an asset of multinational esports organisation Misfits Gaming Group since the beginning of the Overwatch League.
Outside of Overwatch, Misfits was largely known for its European League of Legends franchise team, but the company sold its LEC slot to Team Heretics in 2022. Misfits also owns the Call of Duty franchise Florida Mutineers. Despite its team ownership, the company has since started shifting its focus towards content creators and gaming influencers.
Guangzhou Charge: Nenking Group
Joining ahead of the 2019 season, Guangzhou Charge is currently owned by Chinese financial and entertainment company Nenking Group. Specifically, the franchise is under Nenking Group’s subsidiary Ultra Prime, which also holds a Chinese League of Legends (LPL) roster.
Outside of esports, Nenking is notably the owner of Chinese Basketball team Guangzhou Long-Lions as well as French football club FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. Despite Overwatch 2 not being available in China, Guangzhou Charge will still take part in the Spring Knockout Stage.
Hangzhou Spark: Bilibili
Hangzhou Spark’s owner is major Chinese online video platform Bilibili. Having owned the franchise since the league’s formation in 2017, the platform also has a notable team in the Chinese League of Legends scene with LPL side Bilibili Gaming.
Similarly to Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark will also take part in the 2023 Spring Knockout Stage despite being based in Hangzhou, China.
Houston Outlaws: Beasley Media Group
Although its name has never changed, Houston Outlaws has had three different owners since 2017.
The franchise was first owned by Infinite Esports & Entertainment, which at the time was OpTic Gaming’s parent company. Ownership then changed hands to Immortals Gaming Club in 2019 after the company acquired Infinite Esports. This was actually the first ownership change in the Overwatch League.
Since Immortals Gaming Group was already, and still is, the owner of another OWL franchise, the company sold Houston Outlaws to its current owners, Beasley Media Group, in November 2019. Within esports, Beasley, a radio broadcasting company, also owns a Rocket League team called Team AXLE.
London Spitfire: Cloud9
London Spitfire, the only UK-based Overwatch League franchise, is actually owned by North American esports organisation Cloud9.
Despite having owned the franchise since OWL’s inception in 2017, Cloud9 has largely remained focused within North America through its League of Legends and VALORANT teams. However, the organisation does also have a notable CIS CS:GO division.
Los Angeles Gladiators: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
Whilst the Los Angeles Gladiators is still owned by sports holding company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), it was operated by Phoenix1 — the organisation that later rebranded to Sentinels — up until 2019.
Since then, the franchise has been housed under KSE’s esports team brand The Guard — despite the fact The Guard recently laid off all its employees. Outside of esports, the holding company owns a wide variety of notable traditional sports teams such as English football club Arsenal, NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and NHL team Colorado Avalanche.
Los Angeles Valiant: Immortals Gaming Club
Immortals Gaming Club has been the owner of Los Angeles Valiant since the start of the Overwatch League in 2017.
However, for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the franchise was operated by Chinese esports organisation LGE. LGE also teamed up with Chengdu Hunters in 2020 for its academy side.
It has not been announced if the collaboration will continue for the 2023 season. Other notable Immortals Gaming Club brands include its LCS team and its Brazilian brand MIBR.
New York Excelsior: NYXL
New York Excelsior has been owned by New York-based esports organisation NYXL since 2017, albeit under a different name. Prior to its rebranding in 2022, the Overwatch League team owner was known as Andbox.
Alongside Excelsior, the company also owns Call of Duty League franchise New York Subliners, and A Call of Duty Mobile team called NSYL Mayhem.
Unsurprisingly, one of the league’s most notable franchises has kept its original owners: North American esports organisation NRG Esports owns San Francisco Shock.
NRG also has a VALORANT Champions Tour partner team slot, alongside rosters in Rocket League, Apex Legends and Fortnite. The esports organisation was founded by Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller in 2015, the co-owners of NBA team Sacramento Kings.
Seoul Dynasty: Gen.G Esports
Korean franchise Seoul Dynasty has been owned by Gen.G Esports following its creation in 2017 as one of Overwatch League’s original teams.
Gen.G, an esports organisation, is perhaps best known for its LCK League of Legends roster, however, the company has successfully branched out into NBA 2K and Rocket League, the latter team winning the 2022 RLCS Fall Major.
Seoul Infernal: Comcast Spectacor
Despite the relocation, the franchise has never changed ownership and still remains under sports and entertainment giant Comcast Spectacor. Within esports, Comcast also owns South Korean powerhouse T1 through a joint venture with SK Telecom. Moreover, the company owns the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
Shanghai Dragons: NetEase
Shanghai Dragons has remained with NetEase, a Chinese internet technology company, since the franchise was created in 2017.
NetEase is the publisher of battle royale title Naraka: Bladepoint, and, notably, previously was the Chinese distribution partner for Activision Blizzard’s games — including Overwatch.
NetEase had a high-profile public falling out with Activision Blizzard, leading to the breakdown of the distribution partnership. In 2022, it was reported that Riot Games is suing the company regarding another one of its games called Hyper Front. Despite the fractured relationship between NetEase and Blizzard, Shanghai Dragons will still compete in the OverWatch League in 2023.
Toronto Defiant: OverActive Media
Esports and gaming holding company OverActive Media formed Toronto Defiant in 2018 and still owns it, with the franchise becoming a key pillar amongst OverActive’s esports initiatives.
The company’s other notable franchises include Spanish esports organisation MAD Lions, as well as Call of Duty League franchise Toronto Ultra.
Vancouver Titans: Canucks Sports & Entertainment
Joining the Overwatch League for its 2019 season, Vancouver Titans is owned by Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
Sticking with its Canadian roots, Canucks Sports & Entertainment owns NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and National Lacrosse League team Vancouver Warriors. Similarly to some other franchises within the Overwatch League, the Titans are operated by a different esports organisation, with Luminosity Gaming taking the team’s reins.
Vegas Eternal: DM-Esports
Founded in 2018, Vegas Eternal is owned by DM Esports, an esports holding company owned by Drew McCourt — the son of American sports executive Frank McCourt.
Despite its owner remaining DM Esports, Vegas Eternal underwent a significant rebrand last year. The franchise was originally called Paris Eternal before ultimately relocating to Las Vegas, US, under its new name.
Washington Justice: Washington Esports Ventures
Last but not least, Washington Justice has remained with esports holding company Washington Esports Ventures since its debut in the 2019 Overwatch League season.
Washington Esports Ventures is owned by Mark Ein, the owner of World TeamTennis franchise Washington Kastles. More notably, Ein is the founder of Capitol Investment Corp and Venturehouse Group, LLC.
Whilst Washington Esports Ventures only owns an Overwatch League team, the company did reportedly show an interest in acquiring a Call of Duty League franchise in 2021.